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ANTZ

Antz From A To Z
The origin of "Antz" actually dates back to a brainstorming session within PDI's Character Animation Group in 1991

The origin of "Antz" actually dates back to a brainstorming session within PDI's Character Animation Group in 1991. Tim Johnson and his fellow animators had an idea for a completely computer animated film featuring insect characters in a miniature world. Over the next few years, Johnson developed the project, which went through various incarnations under the title 'Lights Out."

In November 1995, Johnson pitched the idea to DreamWorks' Penney Finkelman Cox and Sandra Rabins. In a kind of synchronicity, he learned that then DreamWorks executive Nina Jacobson had been developing an idea for a film that would take audiences into the realm of an ant colony called, appropriately, "Ants." In March of 1996, the film industry's newest studio, DreamWorks 5KG, announced that it had joined forces with a proven leader in the field of computer animation and visual effects, PDI, to produce computer animated feature films. "Antz" marks the first product of that joint venture.

DreamWorks principal Jeffrey Katzenberg says, "PDI has been a vanguard in the field of computer animation for years, and they brought the genre to new levels with 'Antz.' It would have been impossible to make this film without the creative and technological contributions they made, and everyone at DreamWorks was thrilled with the spirit of collaboration and exploration we enjoyed throughout the production."

President of PDI and "Antz" executive producer Carl Rosendahl states, "Creating computer animated feature films is what PDI has been working towards for almost 20 years. We could not have found a better partner than DreamWorks to help us bring that goal to fruition. The sharing of mutual interests and objectives that resulted in this alliance is the kind that comes along rarely."

"To be able to combine our experience doing creative work on the computer with what they bring in the way of long-format entertainment made for the perfect partnership," director Eric Darnell adds.

Producer Patty Wooton agrees, "There was a lot of interaction between PDI and DreamWorks throughout the project. Penney Finkelman Cox and Sandra Rabins were actively involved with us at every step, as was Jeffrey, which is great because he has an incredible passion for animation."

"Antz"--only the second fully computer animated feature ever to be produced-may focus on the tiniest of creatures, but it represents a giant leap forward in the genre. Utilizing in-house proprietary software created by PDI, the film breaks new ground in such traditionally challenging areas as facial animation, crowd sequences and water simulation effects. The subject matter also offered a number of new challenges in presenting the world from an ant's-eye-view.

"This is a film from the ant's perspective, so we tried to visualize the world from their level," director Tim Johnson says. "Even the most common things that you could imagine change dramatically when you get down to an ant's point of view. It's not about how small our world is, it's about how big theirs is."

Darnell expounds, "Computers are still an incredibly untapped resource for artistic expression, and computer animation as a genre has only just begun to be explored on the big screen. We're not trying to duplicate reality or to copy traditional two-dimensional animation. The computer permits the characters and the camera to move in three-dimensional space, which allows the viewer to be drawn

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